The Importance of Editing and Proofreading

To ensure a high standard of quality in our translations, we employ both editors and proofreaders to follow up on translators’ work. Clients often have questions about why editors and proofreaders are necessary in translation. Here are some of the most common questions asked by clients, and our answers.

Why are editing and proofreading necessary?

We choose our translators carefully, and work only with those who produce high-quality translations. But even the best translators – just like the best writers – can benefit from the critical eye of a judicious editor. And of course, to err is human. A proofreader corrects the typo that slips past. Think of it this way: when your company authors a document – whether it is a sales brochure, user guide, or annual report – how many pairs of eyes review that document before it is published?  We’d wager that several people will edit, proofread and review your company’s documents before use. Why would you submit the translations to a lower standard?

What does an editor do?

The editor works with both the source text and its translation. The editor reviews the translation directly against the source text. The editor’s job is to improve clarity and flow, to ensure fluency of style, consistency of terminology, and appropriate and grammatical usage. The editor also takes a “big picture” view of the source text and translation, by taking into consideration the use and application of a translation, and the translation’s intended audience.

How does a proofreader’s task differ?

Whereas the editor will review the translation line by line, word by word against the source text, the proofreader refers very little to the source text, and reviews the translation as stand-alone text.  The proofreader also looks for any grammatical and typographical errors in the translation that may have been missed by the editor, or introduced subsequently, such as after page setting, or encoding.

What are some common changes that are made in editing/proofreading?

Clarification: Translation may sometimes introduce ambiguity where there is none in the source text. A translator, working “in the trenches” might overlook this. An editor may improve clarity through different word choice, rewriting, or rearranging. The nature of the work also means that a translator can be constrained by source text in producing the translation. An editor can make the changes necessary to create a translation that reads like an original authored document.  

Spelling: The translation must use standard spelling of the target country consistently throughout the document (e.g., American English vs. British English). Word processing spell checkers overlook homonyms; only a human editor will spot the error.

Missing text: Unless otherwise instructed, all the source text must be translated. Missing text in a translation most often occurs when there is repetitive content or form, which may cause a translator to lose his or her place while translating. The use of translation environment tools (TEnT) can help to avoid this problem.

Formatting: Page and text formatting of translation must be identical to the source text unless the translator has received other instructions. The text – especially in titles and headings – must break according to target country conventions, and must not introduce confusion or awkwardness

(e.g,         The Government Pays Shit-

                take Farmers to Use Less

                Pesticides                                               )

Numbers and figures: Numbers and figures must always be carefully reviewed. This is especially true if conversions have been made, or when dealing with decimal separators (e.g., $10.95 but 10,95€).

Have you ever benefited from working with a good editor? Have you seen an embarrassing typo recently? Tell us about it in our comments section!



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • No HTML tags allowed

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.